Knowledge of .ca Domain Among US Population

Why Did We Conduct This Study?

Search Engine People conducted this survey to get a better handle on how US residents perceive the .ca domain extension. While in Canada this is commonly recognized as a Canadian-based website or company, we were curious to find out whether or not this was also understood amongst Americans.

These findings will become part of our ongoing investigation into whether Canadian ecommerce sites should focus on .com or .ca domains in their digital marketing efforts.

How Did We Perform the Study?

SEP used Google’s online Consumer Surveys platform to ask 1,500 US residents the question, “What does the .ca domain extension (eg. mean to you?”

Respondents were asked to select one of the following two options, or enter their own response in an open text box:

  • A Canada based company/site
  • A California based company/site

All survey responses were collected over a 3-day period in September 2015.

Respondent Details:

The answers were displayed in a random order.

Sampling bias:

Comparing this question's sample distribution to the Internet Population data for the US.

Group Response Non-response Internet Population Bias
Male 56.4% 44.0% 48.0% 8.3%
Female 43.6% 56.0% 52.0% -8.3%
18-24 16.9% 14.2% 14.1% 2.8%
25-34 22.8% 17.9% 19.4% 3.4%
35-44 18.9% 18.2% 18.7% 0.2%
45-54 16.1% 18.1% 19.4% -3.3%
55-64 16.5% 19.3% 16.0% 0.5%
65+ 8.8% 12.3% 12.3% -3.6%
Midwest 25.5% 20.6% 22.0% 3.6%
Northeast 18.9% 17.4% 18.9% 0.0%
South 31.7% 38.8% 35.3% -3.6%
West 23.8% 23.3% 23.8% 0.0%
RMSE score 1.9%

What Did We Find Out?

The results of our survey produced some interesting findings, giving us insight into how Americans understand the meaning of the .ca domain extension, and what impact their location has on how they interpret the meaning of .ca.


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So What?

SEP’s findings reveal that for many Americans, it is not immediately clear that the .ca domain extension is associated with a Canadian website or company. It is especially interesting to note that the meaning of the .ca domain is less obvious for residents living on the west coast of the United States, in particular California, possibly indicating a self-absorption bias.

Understanding how US customers perceive Canadian-based websites is essential to SEP and how we will advise our clients in targeting their US audiences. This information, when combined with our previous research on Americans willingness to purchase from a Canadian retailer, strongly indicates that a having a .ca domain is not always the ideal scenario for Canadian companies who are looking to attract and sell to customers south of the border.